Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why I don’t preach on specific sins

Recently I received a request for a sermon that dealt with anger. I realized, after looking through my sermons online, that I don’t remember ever preaching about anger specifically. Then I realized I don’t recall, although I may have, ever preaching on any sin in particular. I have blogged about one sin or another on occasion, but never preached a sermon. You might wonder why.

Anger is really just like any other sin. We get angry because we feel an injustice, normally against us, by another, normally considered inferior to us. Anger, just like the other passions, is an expression of our ego. Some people struggle with anger, while others struggle with lust, avarice, gluttony, listlessness, or pride. With each of these passions, our ego if left unchecked will lead us to sin.

The Orthodox Christian struggle is the struggle to overcome our passions. In other words, we are charged with not allowing our passions to govern our actions. As Orthodox Christians, we struggle to allow the will of God, rather than our will, to govern our actions. A proper Orthodox Christian ascetical life or prayer, fasting, almsgiving and full participation in the Sacraments of the Church assist us in choosing God’s will over our passions.

Consider anger, for example. Why do we get angry? “Normally” it is because we don’t get something we either desire or determine we deserve. In both cases, it is our ego which drives this passion. If we could recognize that we don’t deserve special treatment, we are less likely to become angry about not receiving special treatment. If we could recognize we can’t always have what we want, we are less likely to become angry about not receiving it, or better yet less likely to want it in the first place.

So, now you understand why I don’t preach about particular sins that often. Sin is sin. Passions are passions. Our goal is to overcome the passions and sin, at whatever cost. Just focus on prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and the Sacraments; and the rest will take care of itself. 

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